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MAZON Honors Anti-Hunger Champions at Hunger Bites Gala

This year, MAZON’s Justice Award for Advancing the Response to Hunger, recognized three individuals and one institution. 
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May 31, 2024
Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, accepts MAZON’s Justice Award for Advancing the Response to Hunger from Abby J. Leibman, MAZON’s President & CEO, and Carolyn Schwarz Tisdale, Chair of MAZON’s Board of Directors.

On May 21, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger held its Hunger Bites gala. The event, at the restored Union Station in Washington, D.C., recognized outstanding champions in the fight to end hunger and strengthen America’s nutrition safety net. 

“At MAZON, we are guided by the central Jewish teachings of tzedek (seeking justice) and b’tselem Elohim (respecting the inherent dignity of every person),” Abby J. Leibman, MAZON’s president and CEO, told The Journal. “For nearly 40 years, we’ve been leading conversations and dialogues about hunger, and how to end it, with a broad array of policymakers and partners who share that vision; this vision was at the center of Hunger Bites.” 

This year, MAZON’s Justice Award for Advancing the Response to Hunger, recognized three individuals and one institution. 

“MAZON’s goal was to recognize the remarkable contributions of a broad array of individuals and organizations that seek to create a future where no one goes hungry or is shamed for struggling with hunger and food insecurity.” – Abby Leibman 

“MAZON’s goal was to recognize the remarkable contributions of a broad array of individuals and organizations that seek to create a future where no one goes hungry or is shamed for struggling with hunger and food insecurity,” Leibman said.

MAZON honored two longtime congressional champions of the anti-hunger movement: Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and ranking member of the House Rules Committee and co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). MAZON also honored Josh Protas, MAZON’s former vice president of public policy. Protas, who recently took on the role as chief advocacy and policy officer at Meals on Wheels America, is one of the foremost experts on food insecurity among veterans and military families.

Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee and longtime anti-hunger champion, appeals to MAZON supporters to continue their fight for a fair, humane, and truly bipartisan Farm Bill. MAZON presented McGovern with the Justice Award for Advancing the Response to Hunger.

CEO Action for Racial Equity (CEOARE) was also recognized. CEOARE brings together top talent and resources to advance public policies and corporate engagement strategies to address systemic racism and social injustice, while improving societal well-being. “MAZON has been particularly inspired that CEOARE has made one of the pillars of its work the recognition that equity, diversity, and racial justice must be at the center of all policy solutions to address hunger,” Liza Lieberman, vice president of Public Affairs at MAZON, told The Journal.

“Leaders like Senator Stabenow, Congressman McGovern, Josh Protas and CEO Action for Racial Equity give us hope, help us focus on what is possible, and lift us up in the face of defeat,” Lieberman said.” We are better off for the work they do, and we’re inspired by their dedication and courage.”

The event host committee included several members of congress, including Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), public policy leaders, such as Bob Greenstein, TV host and food expert Gail Simmons, actor Joshua Malina and many longtime MAZON supporters including Marcie Zelikow. 

“We were honored to be joined by the legendary Joan Nathan, whose donation of her new memoir ‘My Life in Recipes’ provided a stunning centerpiece to our gift shop experience,” Lieberman said.

During her remarks at the gala, Leibman pointed to the fact that 44 million Americans face food insecurity. “The need is huge, and therefore our government response — through programs like SNAP — must be robust, generous, and compassionate,” she said. “We have a mission to uphold this and other programs to the strength and [beauty] with which they work — for all of us.” 

This includes those who might be struggling, those who have struggled in the past, those who will need the safety net in the future and those who care about growing hunger in this country. “Throughout the program, we heard from stunning monologues that were based on true stories from This Is Hunger, MAZON’s community engagement program that illuminates the profound prevalence of hunger in America and ignites the community’s commitment to end hunger once and for all,” Lieberman said. “This program is available as a digital experience, and our full, museum-quality exhibit is housed in a permanent space in Los Angeles.”

MAZON invites community groups, educators and organizations to use their meaningful and engaging exhibit space (https://mazon.org/form-this-is-hunger-permanent-exhibit-registration/).

Inspired by Jewish values and ideals, MAZON is a national advocacy organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel. 

“We are deeply involved in capacity-building — the capacity of individuals, of organizations, and of the anti-hunger movement itself,” Leibman said. “We are honored to engage a wide array of leaders — from the students we educate, to the volunteers we mobilize, to the clergy we advocate alongside, to the partners we uplift. 

“Building our capacity to act is vital because hunger remains a crisis in both the U.S. and in Israel,” she added. “The needs remain significant and wide-ranging. We strive for the day when all people — regardless of circumstance — can feed themselves and their families.”

Learn more about MAZON at Mazon.org.

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